Wednesday, May 23, 2018



Farm Subsidies and the Farm Bill: Truth vs. Fiction

Farm reform will never get up without "adjustment" assistance.  The government will have to offer something to help farmers adjust to new realities.  If use of corn alcohol in motor fuel no longer becomes compulsory, for instance, something will have to be offered to make use of now surplus ethanol. 

One idea that might not be too wild would be to go to amateur distillers worldwide in search of several new forms of corn spirits for human consumption -- several new types of corn whisky, for instance. Maybe even a corn liqueur. A liqueur called "Moonshine" should be attractive if only because of the name

The government could then sponsor a big advertising blast to get people to try the new product. Success would all depend on attractive products being devised but that should not be beyond the wit of man


Like immigration, health care and other seemingly endless legislative quarrels, agriculture is a highly contentious issue every time Congress grapples with it. So this week’s House farm bill is simply par for the course. The Heritage Foundation’s Daren Bakst has produced an excellent compilation of critical amendments that should graduate to the finalized bill. Unfortunately, these amendments — just like past reform proposals — will be in the crosshairs of subsidy-obsessed special interests.

As Bakst explains in a Daily Signal op-ed, “Agricultural special interests try to make it sound as though touching even one farm subsidy — regardless of how unreasonable the subsidy is — will be the end of agriculture as we know it. Using scare tactics, they will assert wild claims without any support, or they will cherry-pick data to provide a misleading picture.” Sound familiar? That’s because global warming scaremongers apply the same tactic.

The truth is less menacing. For example, while special interest groups assert that farmers are financially strapped and therefore require subsidies, Bakst points to the opposite: “Farm households have far greater median income and wealth than non-farm households.” This means that, as of 2016, 70% of farm households reported higher earnings, and farmer wages averaged about 29% higher. In terms of aggregate wealth, farmers’ average of $897,000 dwarfs that of other households, which stands at a relatively paltry $97,300.

Another farce revolves around the supposedly deteriorating economy. While the agriculture economy is admittedly off its peak, Bakst notes that “key financial indicators such as debt-to-asset ratios are near historic lows.” Besides, he reminds us: “What other sector of the economy expects regular taxpayer handouts when things aren’t going well? The very assumption that taxpayers should protect farmers from competing in the market like every other business shows the egregious nature of the current subsidy system.”

A few additional pointers: The rural economy’s troubles have little to do with farming — “only about 6 percent of rural jobs are in farming,” says Bakst — and subsidies are disproportionately divided among small family and commercial farms (guess which one profits the most?). This contradicts the narrative that subsidies are primarily needed to propel small family farms. The number of family farms, by the way, is not in a tailspin, as special interests claim.

Believe it or not, there’s even a national security angle when it comes to subsidies. But as Bakst points out, “There are no national security problems for almost all commodities that receive little to no subsidies,” which happens to be most agricultural commodities.

Let’s also not belittle the most important fact — taxpayers are on the hook for every subsidiary element. Even with crop insurance, taxpayers foot 62% of the premium bill. And when it comes to sugar, the economy takes a $3.7 billion hit annually despite the special interest groups’ laughable claim that it’s a financially neutral program. The reality is that the poor are hardest hit. The farm bill is currently constructed in a way that ignores these realities. It can, however, be amended. We’ll soon see how Congress considers a priority — special interest groups, or taxpayers.

SOURCE

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Trump turns up heat on Obama, Brennan amid 'informant' questions:  demands DOJ probe

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano on President Trump calling on the Department of Justice to investigate allegations the FBI spied on his 2016 presidential campaign.

President Trump sought to turn the tables on the Obama administration Monday after demanding a probe into whether his predecessor’s FBI “infiltrated” his 2016 campaign, pointedly asking what then-President Barack Obama knew about the operation – while clashing with former CIA boss John Brennan.

Following reports detailing how an FBI “informant” had multiple contacts with members of Trump’s campaign, the president said Sunday he’d formally seek a DOJ probe of whether agents surveilled the campaign for political purposes, and whether any such demands came from the Obama administration.

While the DOJ swiftly asked the department’s inspector general to handle that review, the president turned the spotlight Monday to Obama.

“The Wall Street Journal asks, ‘WHERE IN THE WORLD WAS BARACK OBAMA?’ A very good question!” Trump tweeted.

He was referring to an op-ed calling on Obama to explain “his administration’s surveillance of affiliates of a presidential campaign.” The column from James Freeman posited that Obama was likely “fairly well-informed” about his law enforcement agencies, but said if he was unaware of the Russia probe’s full history, “then it would seem a public explanation is also in order—about his management, and about just how far the ‘deep state’ went without specific presidential approval.”

Former Secret Service agent says Brennan is responsible for Americans' loss of faith in the intelligence community.
Meanwhile, another dust-up between the president and Brennan took shape as the former CIA director, and now MSNBC/NBC contributor, warned Republican leaders in Congress not to “enable” Trump, in response to his call for an investigation.

“Senator McConnell & Speaker Ryan: If Mr. Trump continues along this disastrous path, you will bear major responsibility for the harm done to our democracy. You do a great disservice to our Nation & the Republican Party if you continue to enable Mr. Trump’s self-serving actions,” Brennan tweeted, while also quoting Roman philosopher Cicero: “Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.”

Trump fired back by quoting, at length, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino on “Fox & Friends,” as Bongino accused Brennan of sparking the entire Russia probe and taking part in a politically motivated investigation.

Brennan has been a vocal critic of Trump ever since he took office.

The precise origins of the Russia probe remain unclear. Officials have previously pointed to comments Trump adviser George Papadopoulos allegedly made about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton as touching off the investigation in July 2016. A House GOP memo released earlier this year affirmed this timeline.

But reporting over the weekend in The New York Times and Washington Post said an informant was also talking to Papadopoulos and other Trump figures in 2016. The details have raised questions about what prompted those contacts.

The revelations come amid a tense dispute between the Justice Department and House Republicans who have been seeking details about the informant’s role. Trump referenced that standoff on Saturday, tweeting: “Only the release or review of documents that the House Intelligence Committee (also, Senate Judiciary) is asking for can give the conclusive answers. Drain the Swamp!”

The FBI’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump figures would eventually be taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The intelligence community, and Senate Intelligence Committee, have since declared that Russia did seek to interfere in the election, largely to boost Trump over Clinton.

But in looking to turn up new information on how the probe began – and suggesting political motivations were at play – Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill could undermine the Mueller’s probe just as Trump and his legal team are weighing the possibility of a Trump interview with the special counsel.

Meanwhile, Obama has said little about the probe’s beginnings, and it’s unclear if he plans to enter this highly charged debate.

One of the few references to his involvement came in texts released earlier this year from anti-Trump FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. In one of them, the two discussed preparing talking points for then-FBI boss James Comey to give Obama, who wanted to “know everything we’re doing.”

SOURCE

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Trade War Ceasefire?

From the beginning, we argued that President Donald Trump's planned tariffs were a negotiating chip with China. That became even more clear over the weekend, as China announced that it would buy "significantly" more U.S. goods and services. According to a White House statement, that will include "meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports" with the goal being to "substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China." Let's hope it also brings back some American jobs.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared that the U.S. was "putting the trade war on hold" as negotiations continue, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer insisted tariffs remain on the table if needed to "protect our technology." Good cop, bad cop.

Keep in mind that trade is tied together with negotiations over the nuclear weapons program of China's puppet, North Korea. The upcoming June 12 summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un is crucial, and sorting things out on the trade front with China is key. Hence other chess moves like canceling a planned training exercise with South Korea.

In short, this isn't nearly as simple as the mainstream media sometimes portrays. Trump's negotiations are all part of a long game.

SOURCE

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‘It’s Not a Gun-Law Issue’: 18-Year-Old Tells Texas Gov ‘Shooting Is About More Than Firearms’

While David Hogg and crew are running around the country screaming ‘Gun-Control.’ this 18-year old ‘survivor’ understands that there is so much more going on.


Of course that’s obvious to anyone who isn’t zoned in to the anti-gun rhetoric spewing forth from every channel on TV, but it’s nice to hear the truth coming from a young person who just experienced one of life’s most horrifying moments.

According to ijr.com:
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Monica Bracknell, an 18-year-old ‘survivor’ who knew one of the teachers killed during the shooting at Santa Fe High School, told Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) that the shooting is about school security, not gun laws.
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On Sunday, Abbott addressed members of Arcadia First Baptist Church before services began. According to the Wall Street Journal, he explained that he was there to “comfort my fellow Texans.” He also said he was open to speeding background checks and preventing people who pose a threat to others from getting firearms.
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The Associated Press (AP) reported Bracknell, who survived the shooting, seized the opportunity to meet the governor and share her views on the issue of gun control.
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“People are making this into a political issue,” she shared with the AP she told him. “It’s not a political issue. It’s not a gun-law issue.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, she added that the recent high school shooting shows that there’s a major problem with school safety, “It’s a, this-kid-was-able-to-get-into-the-school-very-easily, issue,” she said.

Jerl Watkins, the interim senior pastor at the church, explained that there are “no words” that can take away the pain the 10 families of the victims are feeling and called for more than just prayers.

“Do we need to do more than just pray?” he asked. “Yes, we most certainly do.”

The recent shooting reignited an already fierce debate about gun control in the country, but the Los Angeles Times reported that in the wake of the shooting, the Santa Fe students, unlike Parkland, Florida, students, haven’t vocalized a strong cry for increased gun control.

At a vigil on Friday evening, the Los Angeles Times reported the issue of guns didn’t come up, and on Saturday there were no protests, and there weren’t an expected for Sunday.

“We have created a culture that does not value life, that does not honor God, that does not respect authority,” Rev. Brad Drake, who lost a member of his congregation in the shooting.

He added that now, we’re “reaping the consequences of those actions,” and no security guard or metal detector can reverse what’s been created.

Eight students and two teachers were killed during the shooting on Friday. Accused shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis, was arrested and faces charges of capital murder and aggravated assault of a public servant.”

SOURCE

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CCRKBA to Antis: ‘When Will You Blame the Murderers?’

Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, has issued a challenge to the gun prohibition lobby. Following last week’s attack at Santa Fe High School in Texas that left ten dead and another ten wounded, Gottlieb wants to know why anti-gun groups never seem to blame the perpetrators of such horrendous crimes.

“Time after time,” he said in a Monday news release, “with endless fund raising appeals and inflammatory rhetoric, we’ve seen these anti-rights lobbying groups immediately try to shift blame to the NRA, or the Second Amendment, or the firearms industry, or some mythical loophole in the law. But they never seem to point their fingers at the culprit, and we think it’s time for the American public to ask why?”

Why, indeed? Gottlieb suspects that the mission of these gun grabbers is not to keep “dangerous or deranged criminals off the street,” but to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of honest citizens.

By diverting public attention away from killers and toward law-abiding citizens who had nothing to do with the crime, Gottlieb suggested in his statement, “these lobbying groups have created a very strong impression that they’re not really interested in punishing criminals, but only in penalizing honest firearms owners for crimes they didn’t commit.”

“Over the weekend, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety was quick to push its gun control agenda, and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility was asking for donations to ‘take a stand…against the gun lobby.’ When was the last time either of these groups demanded swift justice and certainty of punishment for the actual perpetrators?”—CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb

“Time and again,” he stated, “we’ve heard these groups demand a national dialogue on guns. But how do you have a rational discussion with people or groups that repeatedly demonstrate that they cannot tell the difference between the bad guys and the good guys?

“If all they can do is blame innocent citizens while diverting attention from murderous monsters, then it is time to ask these people just whose side they are on,” Gottlieb concluded.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018



The UN Human Rights Council slams Israel for the umpteenth times

Below is the sort of propaganda Leftists love.  It is of course totally one-sided with no reference to how Israel sees it.  The very first deception is referring to the Arabs as "protesters".  They are not.  They are violent attackers doing their best to breach and destroy the Israeli border.  If they were peaceful they would not be shot.

And nobody is giving the true reason why the Arabs are throwing  themselves onto the Israeli guns.  You are supposed to get the idea that people are throwing away their lives because of the desperation of their situation.

The real reason is jihad.  They are deliberately throwing away their lives in the belief that when they die fighting the infidel they will go straight to Paradise and be given 72 virgins to serve them.

That promise matters to the young men concerned.  Under polygamy, rich old men get most of the women -- leaving none for many of the young men.  So Paradise is the only chance they have of getting a woman. Unquiet penises are behind it all. Sick.


The UN has voted to send an international war crimes probe to
Gaza after the body’s leading human rights official slammed Israel’s reaction to protests along the border as “wholly disproportionate”.

Israeli firing into Hamas-ruled Gaza killed nearly 60 Palestinians at mass border protests on Monday.

“There is little evidence of any attempt to minimise casualties on Monday,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The council voted through the resolution with 29 in favour and two opposed, while 14 states abstained.

The resolution also condemned “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians”.

Israel condemned the resolution, which was put forward by a group of countries including Pakistan. The United States decried it as an example of a biased focus on Israel by the council.

Both lamented that it didn’t mention Gaza’s Hamas rulers, whom Israel blames for the violence.

The “independent, international commission of inquiry” mandated by the council will be asked to produce a final report next March.

In a vigorous speech, Mr Zeid slammed the “appalling” recent events in Gaza and called for the occupation of Palestine by Israel to end.

He said the 1.9 million people living in Gaza had been denied human rights by Israeli authorities and described those living in the Palestinian enclave as “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death”.

“They are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; dehumanised by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest,” he said.

The vote for an investigation came days after Israeli forces shot and killed 59 Palestinians and injured more than 2,700 during mass protests along the Gaza border on the day the US officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem.

Mr Zeid said that under international law, Israel was obligated to protect the population of Gaza and ensure their welfare, “but there is little evidence of any attempt to minimise casualties,” he added.

The human rights chief said 118 Palestinians, including 15 children, were killed since protests began on 30 March. He said the number continues to climb as some of the injured die from their wounds.

He compared the Palestinians’ use of Molotov cocktails, slingshots and burning kites against the “horrifying and criminal violence” with which they were met.

“The stark contrast in casualties on both sides is ... suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response. Killings resulting from the unlawful use of force by an occupying power may also constitute ‘wilful killings’ – a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he told the UN council.

“Nobody has been made safer by the horrific events of the past week,” he concluded.

SOURCE

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Trump Campaign Spy’s Past Exposed: Veteran operative

The political scandal of the decade is brewing in Washington, D.C., and it may leave President Donald Trump in a very different position than his enemies wish: Not destroyed, but largely vindicated.

Details have finally started to emerge about an establishment-led effort to plant a “mole” within the Trump campaign, and evidence is beginning to mount that its goal was to undermine and derail his run for office.

The facts are suggesting something chillingly sinister: A government operative directed by the Obama-run FBI purposely infiltrated the campaign of a candidate with the training and background needed to destabilize elections.

In a detailed piece published by The Intercept, investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald summarized the scandal and gave a blow-by-blow account of how its beginning to unravel.

“Over the past several weeks, House Republicans have been claiming that the FBI, during the 2016 election, used an operative to spy on the Trump campaign, and they triggered outrage within the FBI by trying to learn his identity,” he explained.

“The controversy escalated when President Trump joined the fray on Friday morning. ‘Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,’ Trump tweeted.'”

Amazingly, FBI and Department of Justice sources did not deny this claim. It’s worth remembering that while the media and DOJ insiders were laughing and dismissing Trump’s accusations a year ago — especially regarding wiretapping and the Steele dossier — he has been proven right on almost every point.

Nobody is laughing now. Instead, they’re scrambling to cover their tracks.

“On May 8, the Washington Post described the informant as ‘a top-secret intelligence source’ and cited DOJ officials as arguing that disclosure of his name ‘could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI,'” Greenwald reported.

That was almost certainly a last-ditch effort to protect the mole and save face. Then came the threats.

“The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner … actually threatened his own colleagues in Congress with criminal prosecution if they tried to obtain the identity of the informant,” Greenwald reported.

Journalists, including Greenwald and veteran gumshoes at several major media outlets, didn’t stop. After a few rounds of newspaper one-upmanship, the mole’s name has been revealed.

“As a result of some very odd choices by the nation’s largest media outlets, everyone knows the name of the FBI’s informant: Stefan Halper,” Greenwald wrote.

Here’s the truly important and shocking part: Halper is no run-of-the-mill FBI operative. He has a history of being involved in shady CIA operations to infiltrate and derail U.S. elections.

“To begin with, it’s obviously notable that the person the FBI used to monitor the Trump campaign is the same person who worked as a CIA operative running that 1980 Presidential election spying campaign,” Greenwald wrote.

Yes, it was Halper, a former Nixon insider and the same man at the center of the anti-Trump scandal today.

Nearly 40 years ago, a largely buried scandal was playing out in Washington. In involved some famous Republicans, including old names that even today are firmly in the “Never Trump” camp.

“Halper was responsible for a long-forgotten spying scandal involving the 1980 election, in which the Reagan campaign — using CIA officials managed by Halper, reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director and then-Vice-Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush — got caught running a spying operation from inside the Carter administration,” the Intercept explained.

In other words, there may be a structure within the foreign policy and intelligence communities that goes back to at least the time when George H.W. Bush ran the CIA.

That behind-the-scenes power structure — “Deep State,” to borrow the term — was on the side of Hillary Clinton and believed that Trump needed to be stopped at any cost.

One look at the now-public text messages from FBI officials in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election definitely seems to support this. And it’s worth pointing out that the now 93-year-old George H.W. Bush admitted to supporting Hillary Clinton.

By any measure, the Bush dynasty has not been friendly to Trump.

“Whatever else is true, the CIA operative and FBI informant used to gather information on the Trump campaign in the 2016 campaign has, for weeks, been falsely depicted as a sensitive intelligence asset rather than what he actually is: a long-time CIA operative with extensive links to the Bush family who was responsible for a dirty and likely illegal spying operation in the 1980 presidential election,” explained Greenwald.

“For that reason, it’s easy to understand why many people in Washington were so desperate to conceal his identity, but that desperation had nothing to do with the lofty and noble concerns for national security they claimed were motivating them,” he added.

Deep operatives. Election interference. Moles and spies deployed against a candidate by our own government agencies.

It’s a chilling picture, but one that all of the evidence so far supports. There’s a power struggle of shadows within the swamp in Washington, and it is at odds with the American people and their sovereign voice.

SOURCE

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Net Neutrality is a Fancy Term for Internet Socialism

Don’t be fooled by the terminology. Net neutrality isn’t a tech term that will be hard for you to comprehend. You will get it in an instant, I promise. It’s the same old socialism, just rebranded to make it tech-trendy.

There’s nothing neutral about net neutrality. It simply means everyone pays more, for things they need and don’t need, all indiscriminately, like taxes. Net neutrality is just internet socialism.

People who originally fought for net neutrality were afraid of “unregulated capitalism.” Red flags all over the place.

Why else did you think Democrats wanted it so badly?

Senate Democrats just voted to keep their collectivist legacy. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren; all 49 of them voted in favor of keeping net neutrality regulations. Because providers can otherwise dangerously “discriminate” if people pay more or less. “Discriminate” means apportion services based on how much providers are paid. Pay more, get more is terrible discrimination, according to the Democrats.

Democrat thought process: How dare you ask for the right to pay for better service! How dare you ask to pay less to save some money and not subsidize your neighbor’s internet! Everyone pays the same and gets the same. Government tells you what you need and what you pay.

Democrats argued Wednesday that if we repeal the regulations, the internet as we know it will come to end. Net neutrality didn’t even exist until three years ago when the Democrats passed the rules through the Democrat-controlled FCC. Was anyone feeling that their internet opportunities were hindered before 2015? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Maybe if you couldn’t afford the internet. But you’re not entitled to internet. Just as with everything else, you need to earn your money and pay for it if it’s worth anything to you. Same as any other service.

Democrats disagree with me, they believe everyone is entitled to internet. They used key socialist terminology Wednesday when describing net neutrality: “public good.” That’s the socialist term for entitled.

The internet is not a commune. The internet is a marketplace. I like to keep my markets free, competitive, innovative and profitable. Socialism inhibits all of that.

SOURCE

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Sugar Subsidies Should Go—Consumers And Candy Manufacturers Would Benefit

U.S agriculture policy, especially the farm bill fiasco that comes up for renewal every five years, is loaded with pork-barrel spending and reminds us of the old Soviet-era “five-year plan.” From billions in subsidies and insurance premium payments for multimillionaire corporate farmers to providing food stamps to the able-bodied—even when they refuse to seek employment—the farm bill is a boondoggle only special interests and the politicians who benefit from their campaign donations could love.

No farm group spends more on lobbying to keep its sweet tooth satisfied than the sugar lobby. A relatively small group of sugar cane and sugar beet farmers and processors haul in an inordinate amount of support in nearly every farm bill, which guarantees them a price floor for their product, cheap loans, and tariffs that help keep competitors out of their market.

U.S. consumers and candy makers suffer because of this largesse. Justin Sykes of Americans for Tax Reform found the average wholesale price of domestically produced sugar in the United States is more than double the average price of sugar elsewhere in the world.

According to agriculture Census data, the hundreds of millions of dollars in support reaped by the sugar lobby support only about 4,500 sugar beet or cane farm jobs, plus an additional 18,000 jobs in the sugar processing industry. By comparison, there are 600,000 jobs in the food and baking sector, which are harmed by ill-conceived federal sugar policies. It is not surprising then Sykes found the U.S. Sugar Program led to a loss in U.S. manufacturing jobs.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, for every sugar-growing job saved by America’s artificially high sugar prices, approximately three in the confectionery industry are lost. Analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data, Alexandra Wexler wrote in 2013 in a Wall Street Journal article that “total U.S. confectionery manufacturing employment declined by 22 percent from 1998 through 2011,” in no small part due to high sugar prices. Chocolate and candy manufacturers moved their operations to Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere overseas in pursuit of cheaper sugar—a critical, if not primary, ingredient in their products.

A coalition of environmentalists, bakers, candy and food manufacturers, and free-market research centers formed The Alliance for Fair Sugar Policy to fight for an end to Big Sugar’s stranglehold on food policy. The Heartland Institute, where I work as a research fellow, is a proud member of the Alliance.

The Alliance notes the “sugar shakedown is baked into nearly every food, snack and treat, which results in zero benefit for the American consumer. The U.S. sugar program forces manufacturers to pay twice as much for sugar as the rest of the world, putting American small businesses at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to creating jobs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the sugar program killed 123,000 jobs between 1997 and 2015. The American Enterprise Institute estimates that the program costs small businesses and consumers $2.4 – $4 billion a year.”

The U.S. Sugar Program represents crony capitalism at its worst. The program delivers unearned billions to a well-funded, politically connected industry, in the process punishing consumers, American manufacturers, and workers by imposing higher prices on consumers, diminishing competition in in the marketplace, and closing factories in the United States. It’s time to end sweetheart deals for domestic sugar farmers and processors and foreign candy manufacturers.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Monday, May 21, 2018


'Animals': The Leftmedia's Latest BIG Lie

The mainstream media is exposed for spinning a narrative to paint Trump as a racist 

This week we have yet another case study in the mainstream Leftmedia’s practice of dezinformatsiya in the era of #Resistance to Donald Trump. This was an irrefutable example of how intentionally quoting out of context can create an alternative narrative that is then presented as fact. In this case, the Demo/MSM propaganda machine went out of its way to bolster its narrative that Trump’s motivation for enforcing America’s immigration laws is his own racism.

The context the Leftmedia intentionally ignored: Trump was involved Wednesday in a roundtable discussion with law enforcement from across the country seeking to address the problems sanctuary cities pose for immigration enforcement. At one point, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims thanked the president for recognizing and seeking to address the problem. But she also complained about the law: “There could be an MS-13 member I know about [but] if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.”

Trump responded:

We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy. The dumbest laws — as I said before, [we have] the dumbest laws on immigration in the world. So we’re going to take care of it, Margaret. We’ll get it done.

Cue the Leftmedia’s spin. Here are a few of the headlines:

The Washington Post: “Trump compares illegal immigrants to ‘animals’”

The New York Times: “Trump calls some unauthorized immigrants ‘animals’ in rant”

Huffington Post: “Trump refers to immigrants as ‘animals.’ Again.”

USA Today: “Trump ramps up rhetoric on undocumented immigrants: ‘These aren’t people. These are animals.’”

Vox: “Trump on deported immigrants: ‘They’re not people. They’re animals.’”

NPR: “During roundtable, Trump calls some unauthorized immigrants ‘animals’”

These constitute contemptible lies. Trump responded to the propaganda in his usual fashion, stating, “Fake News Media had me calling Immigrants, or Illegal Immigrants, ‘Animals.’ Wrong! … I referred to MS 13 Gang Members as ‘Animals,’ a big difference — and so true. Fake News got it purposely wrong, as usual!”

Not to be outdone by the Leftmedia, outlining the Senate memo to perpetuate the lie, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) declared, “When all of our great-great-grandparents came to America they weren’t ‘animals,’ and these people aren’t either.”

Over in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), effectively equating all immigrants with MS-13 gang members, doubled down, saying, “When the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘These aren’t people, these are animals,’ you have to wonder: Does he not believe in the spark of divinity, the dignity and worth of every person?”

Pelosi added, “We are all God’s children. There is a spark of divinity among every person on earth, and we all have to recognize that as we respect the dignity and worth of every person.”

She was not talking about the “spark of divinity, dignity and worth” of children in their mother’s womb, but of MS13 gang members Trump was, in context, referencing.

SOURCE 

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Trump Uses Reagan Rule to Block Abortion Funding

Contrary to the Leftmedia narrative, this does not amount to "sweeping new abortion restrictions."   

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan used Title X regulations to prevent organizations that receive federal dollars from promoting or referring for abortions, or from sharing physical space with abortion providers. After all, the 1970 law establishing Title X states: “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” Nevertheless, abortion proponents sued. Though the Supreme Court ruled in Reagan’s favor, the policy never actually went into effect because neither President Bush followed his lead, and, naturally, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama opposed it. President Donald Trump, however, plans to resurrect that rule in an announcement today. Stand by for Planned Parenthood to sue in three, two, one…

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion mill, kills more than 300,000 unborn babies every year, and it receives $500 million in taxpayer funding to do so. Of course, the organization insists that it’s complying with federal law preventing taxpayer dollars from being used directly for abortions. As Yuval Levin explained in 2015, “Planned Parenthood gets around the legal prohibition by formally separating its abortion clinics and its other family planning services, even when those are located in the same facility and essentially funded jointly.”

But let’s be honest — abortions are what Planned Parenthood does. Other health services are a mere fig leaf designed to obscure that fact. Pouring water in the shallow end of the pool is the same as pouring it in the deep end.

Given that Republicans in unified control of Washington have failed to defund Planned Parenthood as promised, Trump’s move is a welcome one. But does it go far enough?

Well, the rule only affects $260 million in federal funding for contraception and other “family planning” services, of which Planned Parenthood receives part. The bulk of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes from Medicaid, and only legislation can stop it.

Furthermore, “This proposal does not necessarily defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they’re willing to disentangle taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning, which is required by the Title X law,” said an administration official. “Any grantees that perform, support, or refer for abortion have a choice — disentangle themselves from abortion or fund their activities with privately raised funds.” Planned Parenthood has no shortage of private funds, either.

In other words, it seems that semantics and accounting gimmicks may still suffice, and, contrary to the Leftmedia narrative, this does not amount to “sweeping new abortion restrictions.” Even so, Trump has yet again acted where congressional Republicans (and two previous GOP presidents) failed. Let’s hope it leads to further action to stop funding mass slaughter.

By the way, on Wednesday, former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was presented with the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Just a reminder that she oversaw the demise of 3.5 million babies in her 12-year tenure.

SOURCE 

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Israel Deploys ‘Shoko Drones’ to Drop Skunk Water on Gaza Rioters

In response to criticism of its use of deadly weapon fire against Gaza rioters, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will begin dropping skunk water on violent protesters, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Wednesday.

Newly-developed Shoko drones will drop bags (“shoko”) of skunk water onto the rioting crowds to disperse them by non-violent means, The Jerusalem Post reports:

“Israel has developed a new tool to assist in non-violent riot dispersal: The Shoko Drone, which will drop skunk water onto crowds, according to a Defense Ministry statement on Wednesday.” ...

“The IDF has been criticized by the international community for its use of live fire against protestors who approached or attempted to breach or damage the security fence. As such, Israel has upped its efforts to develop non-violent crowd control and dispersal techniques.”

More than one hundred rioters had been either been killed or injured on the Israel-Gaza border during the previous six weeks.

SOURCE 

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China agrees to import more from US, no sign of $200b figure

China has agreed to significantly increase its purchases of US  goods and services, the two countries said on Saturday, but made no mention of a US$200 billion ($266 billion) target the White House had touted earlier.

Beijing and Washington agreed they would keep talking about measures under which China would import more energy and agricultural commodities from the United States to close the $473 billion annual US goods and services trade deficit with China.

A joint statement issued at the conclusion of intensive trade talks in Washington did not indicate whether the two countries would delay or drop their tariff threats on billions of dollars worth of each country's goods, which has sparked fears of a wider trade war and roiled financial markets.

US stocks fluctuated, the dollar rose and Treasury yields retreated as investors assessed conflicting signals on trade talks between the world’s two largest economies.

US stocks fluctuated, the dollar rose and Treasury yields retreated as investors assessed conflicting signals on trade talks between the world’s two largest economies.

"To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services."

US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $200 billion on Chinese goods to combat what his administration says is Beijing's misappropriation of US intellectual property through joint venture requirements and other policies that force technology transfers.

Beijing denies such coercion and has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest US imports - among them aircraft, soybeans and autos.

A report by China's state-run Xinhua news agency described the statement from the two governments as "vowing not to launch a trade war against each other".

While the statement said the two sides would engage at high levels and "seek to resolve their economic and trade concerns in a proactive manner," it made no mention of tariffs. It said there was consensus between Washington and Beijing on the need to create "favourable conditions to increase trade" in manufactured goods and services. This could be a reference to China's previous pledges to open up more economic sectors to services.

The United States will also send a team to China to work out the details of increased agricultural and energy exports, the countries said, without specifying timing.

A senior US official said that during discussions with a member of President Xi Jinping's office, China was considering a package that relied on major purchases of US liquefied natural gas, including a contract for a US firm to build LNG receiving and processing facilities in China.

The package, which also would include new commitments on intellectual property protections, could be agreed by a potential mid-year visit to Washington by China's Vice-President Wang Qishan, the official said.

Trump made cutting the US trade deficit with China a promise in his presidential campaign.

SOURCE 

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Media Coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Clash Is Built on a Myth
   
No matter how often Hamas tells us that rioters on the Israel-Gaza border are armed, the media keeps referring to them as “protesters” and “demonstrators.” No matter how often Hamas concedes that those rioters are part of a broader “war,” the media simply won’t report it as such. And even though rioters assure reporters they have a desire to kill and burn Jews, left-wing journalists and pundits continue to frame Israel as the aggressor.

This week, a senior Hamas official bragged that 50 of the nearly 60 people killed by the Israeli Defense Forces at the Israel-Gaza border were members of Hamas. Israel has identified around 24 of those killed during the riots as Hamas members — 10 of them reportedly members of the internal security apparatus. All of this is an amazing coincidence considering how the clashes have been portraying as a massacre of innocent civilians and children.

Hamas, of course, has no problem boasting about these deaths, but it’s the goal. If you’re going to embed armed terrorists in a ginned-up mob that has been propagandized, paid, coerced and then sent toward military installations and civilian centers across the border, you are counting on causalities. Because martyrdom is the point.

Instead of taking them at their word, Hamas apologists continue arguing that Gaza is an open-air prison. This is only true if you consider people who lock themselves up as prisoners. The controlling government, which took power through a violent coup against “moderates” after the Israelis gave Gaza autonomy, won’t accept any international laws or any set of rules that would allow peaceful interaction with its neighbors. Hamas runs a proto-terror state. And Iran, a fully formed terror state, has continued to send arms to the military wing of Hamas.

Now, it’s true that this entity isn’t nearly as powerful or as advanced as its neighbors, economically or morally. But al-Qaida and ISIS and the Taliban are not as sophisticated as the United States. No one would frame those groups as victims. The idea that Israel, and Israel alone, should afford its enemies free reign over an adjacent territory does not comport with the practices or ideals of any other free nation in the world.

And although it’s rarely mentioned, Egypt has also had the border it shares with the Palestinians closed for the better part of a decade, not only because Hamas is funded by its enemy Iran but also because Hamas is aligned with numerous other groups that embrace violent theocratic methods to further its cause.

And despite what you may have heard, the United States embassy being moved to the western part of Jerusalem is not the cause of the unrest. Hamas itself didn’t recognize the American embassy in Tel Aviv, or anywhere else. It doesn’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over any territory. It is not alone. The precursor to Fatah, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, was formed before the 1967 unification of the Jewish capital. Since then there has not been a single Palestinian leader who has conceded that Israel should have sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem.

Then again, Palestinians have never defaulted to moderation on the status of Jerusalem or anything else. Their far-flung fantasies regarding the right to return (hitched to the historical myth of Nakba) consume them. This is what stands in the way of an agreement. Fatah, the moderate Holocaust-denying wing of Palestinian governance, still runs a martyr fund that pays cash stipends to the families of those killed or imprisoned for carrying out terrorist attacks against Jews. Thanks to the help of international aid, it has been able to make those payments increasingly generous.

Now imagine what the extremist wing of that movement looks like. These riots are not driven by economic destitution but rather the frustration of Hamas, whose attempts at suicide bombing have been thwarted and whose attempts to fire missiles into Israel have been stymied by the Iron Dome defense system. If this were about food and shelter, the Palestinian rioters would be headed to the government building in Gaza City rather than turning away Israeli trucks bringing them humanitarian aid. At this point, everyone knows that Israel has repeatedly shown a willingness to make peace with anyone who desires it.

The fact that those of Hamas are willing to sacrifice their lives (and the lives of their citizens) doesn’t suggest they aren’t the instigators or the guilty party. There’s an obsession in the media with the disproportionate number of Palestinians who die in these conflicts. Some can’t escape the hackneyed oppressor-oppressed news template. Others allow their obsession with Donald Trump to cloud their view of the situation — not to mention their morality. The fact is that if Hamas were to drop its claim on Israel proper and stop using every opening provided to instigate violence, not a single Palestinian would ever have to die in this war.

SOURCE 

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Sunday, May 20, 2018


Putin has the last laugh

Vladimir Putin has taunted Britain after Sergei Skripal's release from hospital - suggesting the Russian spy would have 'died on the spot' if he had been attacked with a military-grade toxin.

Mr Skripal is being protected by 24-hour armed guard at an MI5 safe house after leaving hospital earlier this week, sources have revealed.

The 66-year-old, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to Salisbury District Hospital along with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey after being exposed to the nerve agent in March.

Britain has accused Russia of being behind the poisoning, saying it was caused by a type of nerve agent known as Novichok which was developed in the Soviet Union.

Putin wished Skripal 'good health' during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today. But he added: 'God grant him good health... If a military-grade poison had been used, the man would have died on the spot. Thank God he recovered and that he left (hospital).'

Putin then accused Britain of failing to respond to the Kremlin's offer of help with the investigation. 'We have several times offered our British partners any necessary assistance in the investigation (of the poisoning). So far we have received no response. Our offer remains open,' he said.

Mr Skripal, who nearly died after being exposed to the deadly nerve agent novichok, was discharged earlier this week and was whisked to an undisclosed location.

His daughter Yulia, who was also poisoned and left gravely ill, left hospital last month.

Today, Russia's ambassador to the UK stepped up demands to be allowed to see the pair, suggesting they may be being detained by the British state.

Alexander Yakovenko said the pair were 'isolated', adding: 'You can call it kidnap.'

He welcomed the announcement that former spy Mr Skripal had been discharged from hospital. But Mr Yakovenko has claimed the UK is violating international law by not granting access to the Skripals.

The 1963 Vienna Convention gives consular officials access rights if one of their nationals is in prison, custody or detention.

SOURCE 

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School Shooter Found Carrying Communist Symbol

Details about the alleged perpetrator of Friday’s school shooting are beginning to emerge, and they seem to dismantle leftist narratives about gun violence.

At least nine people were killed during an attack at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Authorities have confirmed that part of the criminal’s plot involved makeshift bombs most likely constructed from pressure cookers, and at least one armed police officer engaged the shooter at the school.

That suspected criminal has now been taken into custody and revealed as a 17-year-old student. As journalists poured over the alleged shooter’s social media accounts, they found something chilling.

It appears that the shooter proudly wore a piece of pro-Communist propaganda on his clothing as he carried out the attack.

Photos and descriptions from the accused criminal’s Facebook page show an unmistakable Soviet “hammer and sickle” pin placed prominently on the lapel of his jacket — the same jacket that witnesses said he wore during the rampage.

The “hammer and sickle” is the exact same symbol used by many far-left anti-Trump activists, including “Antifa.”

Metro UK newspaper published screenshots of the suspect’s account and showed a red Socialist star with the hammer and sickle. The student’s own description confirmed what the pin meant. “Duster Hammer and Sickle = Rebellion,” he wrote.

The star pin appeared to be identical or similar to items available from MarxistBooks.com and other pro-socialist propaganda outlets.

More recently, the symbol has become the de facto icon of radical anti-Trump protesters. There are numerous examples of liberal protesters waving the hammer and sickle flag or using the iconography on banners protesting the president and conservatism.

It appears that wearing the trench coat with its pro-socialist propaganda was common for the alleged shooter.

“Dustin Severin, a 17-year-old student, told local NBC affiliate KPRC that he saw (the shooter) in the hallway shortly before the bullets started flying — and that he was wearing his usual outfit,” reported NBC.

“He wears a trench coat every day, and it’s like 90 degrees out here,” the witness said.

The jacket also had other pins, including a rising sun that symbolizes “kamikaze tactics,” and Baphomet, an idol of the Occult that is associated with evil.

More details about the shooter and this horrible crime will emerge over the coming days. What is already clear, however, is that this was a disturbed person bent on carrying out harm … and the liberal media’s narratives about conservatives being to blame for these crimes just does not hold water.

SOURCE 

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My Country or My Tribe?

The real divide in America? The Right believes the Left is wrong. The Left believes the Right is evil.

“Tribalism, it’s always worth remembering, is not one aspect of human experience. It’s the default human experience.” —columnist Andrew Sullivan in 2017

If one were to believe much of the Leftmedia’s take, America was a reasonable nation until Donald Trump was elected. Yet the tribalism we now call identity politics has been nurtured for decades, engendered by the change from one simple idea to another: a nation once urged to embrace assimilation in all its “melting pot” permutations became one where “celebrating our differences” was deemed the more enlightened approach.

It was a total fraud.

One that is reaching epic proportions. Did we really have a presidential candidate willing to completely dismiss millions of Americans as “deplorables” simply because they disagreed with her political philosophy, and/or disliked her personally? How do Hillary Clinton, her media allies and her legions of supporters account for the fact that many of those same deplorables voted for Barack Obama?

“Trump ran and won as, among other things, a white racial demagogue who mocked and insulted minorities on his way to the White House; while the left, as it has grown more diverse, has become accustomed to periodic spasms of hostility and mutual recrimination among its various minority groups and their white allies,” asserts columnist Paul MacDougald.

Really? A majority of Trump voters embrace racial demagoguery? And the Left’s understanding of diversity consists of sub-tribes jockeying for primacy, largely based on which one can elicit the most guilt from all the others?

Such clich├ęd cynicism, and the unending torrent of political correctness needed to sustain it, was as much a driver of Trump’s victory as anything else. And adding to leftist despair is the reality that Trump’s coarseness — seen as the antidote to political correctness — was not a bug but a feature of his success.

The real divide in America? The Right believes the Left is wrong. The Left believes the Right is evil.

Thus, leftists believe it is their sacred duty to impose their beliefs on the nation whether it wants them or not. And because of that sacredness, executive orders, court decisions, bureaucratic fiats and everything else that can be used to thwart the constitutional order is perfectly acceptable — when leftists do it.

Thus, a Supreme Court that usurps states’ rights and changes the 5,000-year-old definition of marriage is to be applauded. The same Court upholding an individual’s right to keep and bear arms? A travesty of justice. Barack Obama implementing DACA by executive order? Enlightened. Donald Trump demanding Congress decide the issue? Anti-immigrant bigotry.

Nor is the divide simply about differing worldviews. Many progressives themselves once had traditional beliefs regarding subjects like marriage and gender. But since they’ve “evolved,” every American must follow suit — within a progressive-defined timeline. Those who don’t? As contemptible as those who resist completely.

Imposing arbitrary timelines on societal change, no matter how worthy, virtually guarantees a tribalist response. Nonetheless, the Left remains obsessed with pushing the envelope. “Is Your Script Gender-Balanced? Try This Test” states a New York Times headline. It speaks to Hollywood screenwriter Christina Hodson’s development of gender analysis software that keeps track of how many characters are male and female, how many lines are spoken by each character, and eventually, “other issues of representation, like race and ethnicity,” as the Times puts it. “It’s a tool for people to self-police and look at unconscious bias in their own work,” Hodson insists.

More like a tool to make story-telling indistinguishable from progressive virtue-signaling.

If such tribalist-inspired nonsense were limited to Hollywood scriptwriting, it would be amusing. Yet as columnist Heather MacDonald reveals, the identity politics imposed on social science and humanities courses at America’s colleges is bleeding over into the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), now seen as insufficiently “diverse.”

How does one engender sufficient levels of diversity? By eliminating meritocracy. “Medical school administrators urge admissions committees to overlook the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores of black and Hispanic student applicants and employ ‘holistic review’ in order to engineer a diverse class,” MacDonald explains.

Will Americans countenance a nation where ideological imperatives for a movie script become indistinguishable from those for an operating room?

“When civil rights shifted from punishing mandatory segregation to punishing the lack of integration, it ceased to be a movement pursuing freedom and instead became a totalitarian movement,” asserts columnist Daniel Greenfield.

That totalitarian movement has pushed millions of well-meaning Americans into tribalist enclaves, where safety becomes more important than freedom of expression. And that retreat is often justified by what many Americans perceive is a double-standard with regard to accountability. Did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians, or is a Ruling Class long used to getting its way seeking to nullify the 2016 election? Are we an exceptional nation built on an unprecedented understanding of human rights and the limits of government power, or one built on the “genocide of native people and slavery,” where the “cradle of democracy is "bulls—t,” as filmmaker Spike Lee asserts? In America today, one’s answers to such questions are more often than not determined by one’s tribal allegiance.

As Sullivan reminds us, tribalism is not necessarily a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with “unconditional pride, in our neighborhood and community; in our ethnic and social identities and their rituals; among our fellow enthusiasts,” he writes. By contrast, he warns, when it calcifies and “rivals our attachment to the nation as a whole” and “turns rival tribes into enemies” it ultimately destabilizes the nation.

Of course, Sullivan blames both sides for the divisiveness but holds the Right more accountable — or so he thinks. “One of the great attractions of tribalism is that you don’t actually have to think very much,” he asserts.

The American Right can be blamed for a great many things with regard to tribalism. But dumbing-down public schools and colleges that routinely turn out legions of weak-thinking but well-indoctrinated social justice warriors isn’t one of them.

Is there a truce to be had? Oddly enough, the most recent Supreme Court decision striking down a federal law prohibiting sports betting epitomizes the “live and let live” federalism the Founding Fathers were prescient enough to make an integral part of governing documents. Yet federalism is only part of the equation. “Nurturing your difference or dissent from your own group is difficult; appreciating the individuality of those in other tribes is even harder,” Sullivan explains.

Individual thinking would undoubtedly be fatal for tribalism. But if the Left’s reaction to Kanye West is any indication, tribalism in America will last as long as leftists view a heckler’s veto as a reasonable substitute for debate.

It’s not. Not by a long shot.

SOURCE 

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Wasserman Schultz Calls Five Million Americans 'Terrorists'

"The NRA is kind of just shy of a terrorist organization," declared Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "They have done everything they can to perpetuate the culture of violence that we have in our country with the spread of assault weapons across the nation." She was responding to Oliver North, the NRA's new president, who said recently of gun-controllers, "They call them activists. That's what they're calling themselves. They're not activists — this is civil terrorism." He accused them of "intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking."

North has a point, especially in light of the recent hate-filled boycott campaign against the NRA and the ignorant political pawns marching against our constitutional rights.

But we want to rebut Wasserman Schultz's gross slander more specifically. The nearly 150-year-old NRA is made up of roughly five million Americans who love our Constitution and stand in particular for the Second Amendment — the right that secures all the others. Those Americans commit crimes at a far lower rate than the general population. In fact, as a subset, concealed-carry permit holders are more law-abiding than the police. No NRA member has ever perpetrated a mass murder, though an NRA instructor did stop the one in Texas last year. When the annual NRA convention comes to any city, that city's crime rate drops. The NRA spends millions instructing Americans of all ages how to responsibly handle firearms, both for recreational purpose and self-defense. That reduces crime.

By contrast, most crime in America — and particularly gun crime — is committed on urban poverty plantations that Democrats have run for decades. That crime is not committed with what Democrats have misnamed "assault weapons," either, but by illegally owned handguns often wielded by drug dealers and gangs. Democrats perpetuate the culture of death through their rabid support of abortion. When political violence is committed, it's usually against Republicans. And as for actual terrorists, well, Democrat Barack Obama funded it with billions of dollars.

"It's kind of like a spoiled child stamping their feet on the ground, insisting that something right in front of their face isn't true," Wasserman Schultz said. Yes. Yes it is. But it's worse than that. Her hateful slander of law-abiding Americans is utterly contemptible.

SOURCE 


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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Friday, May 18, 2018



European Officials Bribed Into Accepting Iran Nuke Deal?

After President Donald Trump's decision last Tuesday to pull out of Barack Obama's dubious Iran nuclear deal, which was followed by threats to reimpose economic sanctions against the number-one state sponsor of terrorism, Iran's foreign affairs minister issued his own threat via a bombshell revelation. H.J. Ansari Zarif stated, "If Europeans stop trading with Iran and don't put pressure on the U.S. then we will reveal which western politicians and how much money they had received during nuclear negotiations to make #IranDeal happen."

Now, the Iranians aren't exactly the most trustworthy bunch. That's a huge part of the problem with the deal. But Zarif's charge that several European leaders were essentially bribed into accepting the Iran deal is entirely plausible.

Recall that after Obama completed the Iran deal back in 2015, Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer wondered, "The most astonishing thing [about the deal] is that in return, they [the Iranians] are not closing a single nuclear facility. Their entire nuclear infrastructure is intact. They are going to have the entire infrastructure in place either for a breakout after the agreement expires or when they have enough sanctions relief and they want to cheat and to break out on their own."

Krauthammer's observation was accurate. So what exactly did the rest of the world get from the Iran deal? Why did so many of Europe's leaders sign on to such a bad deal? The answer is twofold: As far as reining in a rogue regime's efforts to gain nuclear weapons, the West got nothing; as for opportunities for lucrative business deals, that was most definitely in the cards, as Zarif may have just alluded to. And this revelation might also explain why European leaders are scrambling to salvage the deal. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire argued, "Do we want to be vassals who obey decisions taken by the United States while clinging to the hem of their trousers? Or do we want to say we have our economic interests, [and that] we will continue to do trade with Iran?"

Memo to Le Maire: U.S. GDP ranks first in the world and accounts for 23% of the world's GDP. Iran is 29th, accounting for less than 0.5%. What was that about economic interests again?

SOURCE

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What Trump is quietly (and effectively) doing to fix our broken health care system

Since ObamaCare’s passage and failed implementation, patient premiums and out of pocket expenses have gone way up, not down as promised. Consumers now have less options in terms of policies and benefits to choose from, not more as they were told.  Countless patients can no longer see their doctors or be treated at local facilities of their choice.

On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump said he would work with a Republican Congress to repeal ObamaCare so that patients and doctors, rather than bureaucrats and unelected boards, would have more control over individuals’ health care decisions. He also vowed to roll back government obstacles to bring new medicines to market faster, speed generic drug approvals, and address the high costs of insurance premiums and prescription drugs, all to reduce unsustainable health care costs.

Detractors of President Trump like to highlight that ObamaCare is still in existence, despite Republicans controlling both houses of congress. But President Trump has quietly gained the upper hand on several crucial health care reforms including the repeal of Obama cares individual mandate, the laws core, in last years tax bill. Another victory is the repeal of ObamaCare's independent payment advisory board, aka the ObamaCare death panel. Naturally the media gives him no credit for these achievements.

The changes that are already underway spurring greater competition which will help further drive down costs without sacrificing new medical innovations, or bringing new treatments to market.   Several of the most significant reforms have come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the agencies housed within it, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

HHS Secretary Alex Azar is a seasoned veteran who brings experience as a health care reformer in the federal government and as an innovating private sector executive.  Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, an FDA alum, is reforming the regulatory system to expedite reviews and ignite greater competition.  Over the past decade, competition from generic drugs has saved the U.S. health care system $1.67 trillion. Expect much more. Gottlieb is working to eliminate regulatory barriers that stand in the way of bringing more of these drugs to market.

He’s prioritized FDA reviews for the first three generic alternatives to any original brand name drug, and these efforts are having an impact.  In fact, the FDA approved more than 100 generic drugs in the month of October 2017 – more than ever before.  And in July, the FDA will host a pioneering program focused on “Patient Focused Drug Development” that elevates patient perspectives and priorities in both the development of new treatments and their evaluation by regulators.

Much attention of late has been made about patients who have picked up prescriptions at the pharmacy counter only to find the costs under their insurance plan are sky high -and rising even higher. That’s because Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) – middlemen that negotiate discounts and rebates from drug manufacturers – and health plans don’t always pass along those savings, sometimes up to 50 percent, to patients.  This unfairly inflates drug costs, including those of senior Medicare beneficiaries.  CMS Administrator Seema Verma is working to address this through a new proposed Medicare rule, which will ensure patients benefit directly from these substantial discounts. And it’s a change that could yield more than $10 billion in savings for seniors.

Similarly, Verma has proposed reforms to Medicare’s 340B Program that would save patients hundreds of millions of dollars on drug copayments in 2018 alone. The 340B program was originally intended to help low income patients pay for medicines through large discounts provided by drug manufacturers to 340B designated hospitals. The program was expanded significantly as part of ObamaCare. Alas, the 340B program has subsequently been widely abused by hospitals who have turned the discounts into profit centers instead of passing savings on to patients. For context, a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee report calculated that the number of hospitals participating in the 340B program has more than quadrupled  from 591 in 2005 to 2,479 in 2017. Furthermore, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the financial gains for hospitals from the 340B program didn’t lead to expanded care or lower mortality for low- income patients.

Despite representing less than 14 percent of total health care spending, drug costs now have more visible public price tags in the wake of ObamaCare. This largely is because health insurers, even after dramatically spiking premiums, have also vastly increased deductibles, co-pays and other out -of -pocket expenses. Add to this, the misguided practice of insurers and PBMs not passing along negotiated savings from manufacturers to patients, and it is evident that the “system” created under ObamaCare has effectively shifted much of the cost burden directly on to patients in visible, invisible and painful ways. That said, as President Trump noted in his State of the Union address, the cost of drugs remains too high.

Reforms that help to lower drug costs without stifling medical innovation and investment is a critical goal, but one that can only be achieved through an approach that examines the entire “system.” This includes biopharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurers, PBMs, trial lawyers and patent trolls, regulators and our foreign trading partners. Price controls such as those that are routine in Europe would suffocate the development of life-saving, life- improving medicines and medical devices. This is what has happened overseas.

SOURCE

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Is it rational to trust your gut feelings? A neuroscientist explains

My survey of the academic literature relevant to stereotyping (See here and here) reached a similar conclusion.  The brain is continually monitoring and integrating new information and changing its responses accordingly -- not necessarily at the conscious level

Imagine the director of a big company announcing an important decision and justifying it with it being based on a gut feeling. This would be met with disbelief – surely important decisions have to be thought over carefully, deliberately and rationally?

Indeed, relying on your intuition generally has a bad reputation, especially in the Western part of the world where analytic thinking has been steadily promoted over the past decades. Gradually, many have come to think that humans have progressed from relying on primitive, magical and religious thinking to analytic and scientific thinking. As a result, they view emotions and intuition as fallible, even whimsical, tools.

However, this attitude is based on a myth of cognitive progress. Emotions are actually not dumb responses that always need to be ignored or even corrected by rational faculties. They are appraisals of what you have just experienced or thought of – in this sense, they are also a form of information processing.

Intuition or gut feelings are also the result of a lot of processing that happens in the brain. Research suggests that the brain is a large predictive machine, constantly comparing incoming sensory information and current experiences against stored knowledge and memories of previous experiences, and predicting what will come next. This is described in what scientists call the “predictive processing framework”.

This ensures that the brain is always as prepared to deal with the current situation as optimally as possible. When a mismatch occurs (something that wasn’t predicted), your brain updates its cognitive models.

This matching between prior models (based on past experience) and current experience happens automatically and subconsciously. Intuitions occur when your brain has made a significant match or mismatch (between the cognitive model and current experience), but this has not yet reached your conscious awareness.

For example, you may be driving on a country road in the dark listening to some music, when suddenly you have an intuition to drive more to one side of the lane. As you continue driving, you notice that you have only just missed a massive pothole that could have significantly damaged your car. You are glad you relied on your gut feeling even if you don’t know where it came from. In reality, the car in the far distance in front of you made a similar small swerve (since they are locals and know the road), and you picked up on this without consciously registering it.

When you have a lot of experience in a certain area, the brain has more information to match the current experience against. This makes your intuitions more reliable. This means that, as with creativity, your intuition can actually improve with experience.

Biased understanding

In the psychological literature, intuition is often explained as one of two general modes of thinking, along with analytic reasoning. Intuitive thinking is described as automatic, fast, and subconscious. Analytic thinking, on the other hand, is slow, logical, conscious and deliberate.

Many take the division between analytic and intuitive thinking to mean that the two types of processing (or “thinking styles”) are opposites, working in a see-saw manner. However, a recent meta-analysis – an investigation where the impact of a group of studies is measured – has shown that analytic and intuitive thinking are typically not correlated and could happen at the same time.

So while it is true that one style of thinking likely feels dominant over the other in any situation – in particular analytic thinking – the subconscious nature of intuitive thinking makes it hard to determine exactly when it occurs, since so much happens under the bonnet of our awareness.

Indeed, the two thinking styles are in fact complementary and can work in concert – we regularly employ them together. Even groundbreaking scientific research may start with intuitive knowledge that enables scientists to formulate innovative ideas and hypotheses, which later can be validated through rigorous testing and analysis.

What’s more, while intuition is seen as sloppy and inaccurate, analytic thinking can be detrimental as well. Studies have shown that overthinking can seriously hinder our decision-making process.

In other cases, analytic thinking may simply consist of post-hoc justifications or rationalisations of decisions based on intuitive thinking. This occurs for example when we have to explain our decisions in moral dilemmas. This effect has let some people refer to analytic thinking as the “press secretary” or “inner lawyer” of intuition. Oftentimes we don’t know why we make decisions, but we still want to have reasons for our decisions.

Trusting instincts

So should we just rely on our intuition, given that it aids our decision-making? It’s complicated. Because intuition relies on evolutionarily older, automatic and fast processing, it also falls prey to misguidances, such as cognitive biases. These are systematic errors in thinking, that can automatically occur. Despite this, familiarising yourself with common cognitive biases can help you spot them in future occasions: there are good tips about how to do that here and here.

Similarly, since fast processing is ancient, it can sometimes be a little out of date. Consider for example a plate of donuts. While you may be attracted to eat them all, it is unlikely that you need this large an amount of sugars and fats. However, in the hunter-gatherers’ time, stocking up on energy would have been a wise instinct.

Thus, for every situation that involves a decision based on your assessment, consider whether your intuition has correctly assessed the situation. Is it an evolutionary old or new situation? Does it involve cognitive biases? Do you have experience or expertise in this type of situation? If it is evolutionary old, involves a cognitive bias, and you don’t have expertise in it, then rely on analytic thinking. If not, feel free to trust your intuitive thinking.

It is time to stop the witch hunt on intuition, and see it for what it is: a fast, automatic, subconscious processing style that can provide us with very useful information that deliberate analysing can’t. We need to accept that intuitive and analytic thinking should occur together, and be weighed up against each other in difficult decision-making situations.

SOURCE

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Jobless in Seattle

Here's irony for you: Seattle is penalizing the companies most responsible for employing people while rewarding the city officials most responsible for creating a crisis of homelessness. What do we mean? We're referring to Seattle's new "head tax" of $275 per full-time employee for companies earning at least $20 million in annual revenue. Nearly 600 employers will be hit by the tax, which was dialed back from the initially proposed $500 per job. It was unanimously passed by the Democrat-run city council this week with the ostensible aim of raising nearly $50 million per year to pay for affordable housing and other "homeless services" — services needed because Democrat policies cause poverty. Seattle and King County, "home" to the third-highest number of homeless people in America, already spent $200 million on the problem last year.

The resurrected and greatly expanded tax is significant for two reasons: First, and most important, it serves as a Democrat model for other cities. Democrats always aim to punish the successful so they can redistribute to their favored constituency groups in return for votes and, thus, power.

Second, Seattle is home to both Starbucks and Amazon, two of the nation's largest employers, both of which oppose the tax. Now, don't get us wrong, we have little sympathy for either company. Starbucks has been at the forefront of leftist social justice battles, albeit recently getting a taste of its own medicine. And Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the world's richest man and a stalwart financier of leftist causes, not least of which is owning The Washington Post. Amazon recently justified some anti-conservative discrimination based on the work of the radical leftist hate group known as the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener sounded downright conservative in denouncing this "tax on jobs." He hammered the city, saying, "City of Seattle revenues have grown dramatically from $2.8 billion in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2017, and they will be even higher in 2018. This revenue increase far outpaces the Seattle population increase over the same time period. The city does not have a revenue problem — it has a spending efficiency problem. We are highly uncertain whether the city council's anti-business positions or its spending inefficiency will change for the better." Indeed, Amazon is looking to expand elsewhere.

A letter signed by more than 100 Seattle business leaders likewise nailed it: "We oppose this approach, because of the message it sends to every business: if you are investing in growth, if you create too many jobs in Seattle, you will be punished." Companies won't hire more workers, and they've stop shy of earning $20 million.

As Fox News dryly notes, "Seattle once had a $25-a-year per head tax, but killed it in 2009 because leaders said it sent the wrong message to businesses during the recession."

Back to homelessness, again, Seattle's city council helped create the problem. Investor's Business Daily reports, "From 2010 to 2013, the city saw an explosion in the construction of 'congregate housing units' — basically, affordable, dorm-room size apartments with shared kitchen and living areas. Within those three years, private developers constructed 1,800 units. But by 2015, not one was built. Why? In 2014, the city stepped in and smothered this option with regulations that required the apartments to be bigger, banned them from more desirable areas, and forced builders to jump through costly design reviews." Voila, housing shortage.

And that's on top of Seattle's job- and pay-crushing $15/hour minimum wage, its income-redistributing tax on high-earners (that was struck down as illegal), its tax on property owners to pay for political speech, its soda tax and its gun tax, just to name a few.

It sure seems Seattle's Democrat overlords are doing everything possible to follow in the footsteps of the socialists killing Venezuela.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Thursday, May 17, 2018



Who are the Mass. voters supporting Scott Lively?

The 2018 Massachusetts gubernatorial election will take place on November 6, 2018. The primary is scheduled for September 4, 2018. Incumbent RINO Governor Charlie Baker is running for re-election to a second term in office. He is very popular in Mass. so will win the Republican primary and subsequently the governorship. He has a real Republican challenger in the primary, Scott Lively, who has no hope of winning so some people are wondering why he is standing.  A report from the Leftist Boston Globe below

The Globe treats as ludicrous Lively's claims about the homosexual element in Nazism but it is well documented here

In addition to such well-known homosexuals as Roehm and Schirach at the top of the Nazi hierarchy there were others such as Heines -- whom Shirer ("The Rise and fall of the Third Reich") describes thus: "Edmund Heines, the Obergruppenfuehrer of Silesia... a notorious homosexual" (p. 307). Silesia is of course a major industrial area of great historic significance so command of the Nazis there was no mean post. Could a "notorious homosexual" get a prominent party job anywhere else in the world at that time? I think not. So Nazism did in its times embody an exceptional degree of "gay lib". Arguably it was in fact the first flowering of "gay-lib"


Roehm (L) and Heines (R)


DEMOCRATS WANT BIG WINS in the November midterm elections. But in primaries last week in Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia, not a single Republican critic of President Trump survived. In Massachusetts, nearly 28 percent of delegates to the state GOP convention last month voted for Scott Lively over Charlie Baker, the most popular governor in the country.

Lively has claimed that gays controlled the Third Reich. He also calls himself “100 percent pro-life,” “100 percent Second Amendment,” and “100 percent pro-Trump.”

Who are these Lively voters? Activists who want to send Baker a message to move to the right? Anti-gay bigots? Or mega-fans of Donald Trump, whose own extremes freed them up to support the ultra-extreme Lively?

It’s Trump, says Todd Domke, a long-time Republican analyst who resigned from the GOP after Trump’s election. The GOP base here is more conservative and populist than most realize, he says, and a president’s appeal is huge. Domke sites Ray Shamie’s stunning win over Watergate star and former Attorney General Elliot Richardson in the state’s GOP primary in 1984. Shamie wrapped himself around the swaggering Ronald Reagan. Richardson? Not so much.

The convention vote to put anti-gay crusader Scott Lively on the primary ballot is a self-inflicted black eye for the state’s Republicans.

Now we’re talking supper-swaggering Trump, a TV star billionaire with a cult-like appeal who drives liberal elites bananas. At a Belchertown Flag Day celebration last year, Lively supporter Chris Pinto of Massachusetts Gun Rights gave a speech detailing most every nasty remark made by such elites about Trump. Among them: Madonna, Robert DeNiro, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Colbert, Kathy Griffin, Snoop Dogg, YG, and Everlast.

Richard Howell, another Lively supporter, says that zeal for Trump turned into zeal for Lively, who’s wrapped himself around Trump completely. [Mass. governor] Baker, meanwhile, has kept his distance. He even blanked the 2016 presidential ballot, voting for neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton.

But it’s not just where Trump “stands on the issues,” says Howell. “It’s performance. Trump is not going to be threatened or intimidated.” And neither, he says, is Lively.

What about those Trump issues? The Iran deal? The Mueller investigation? Michael Cohen and his links to the Russian mob? All those women who’ve accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment?

Howell says he loves what the president is doing “with the mullahs in Iran.” He calls the Mueller investigation a “deep state operation” and wonders why nobody ever prosecuted Clinton for her e-mails. “If there were any truth to (the women’s claims) it would’ve come out sooner,” he says.

The zeal for President Trump turned into zeal for Lively.
You talk to deep-red Massachusetts Lively conservatives, and you realize: Although their numbers are tiny, their ideas echo talking points you heard in reports from Indiana and Ohio and daily on “Fox News.” Though no one I talked to embraced Lively’s crusade against homosexuality, they do oppose gay marriage and transgender rights. But mostly, they love Trump on guns, the wall, and anti-abortion judges.

Massachusetts’ progressives, meanwhile, may as well live in a different galaxy. They’re horrified by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to separate children from mothers at border crossings. They love talk of Cohen’s “slush fund” for porn stars and CNN debates between Alan Dershowitz and Jeffrey Toobin over Trump’s taking “the Fifth.”

GOP activist Steve Aylward of Watertown says he couldn’t vote for Charlie Baker, “who’s supported every kooky liberal program there is, from the bathroom bill (his term for transgender legislation) to bilingual education to this most recent crime bill, which may as well be called the let-people-out-of-jail bill.” Aylward, famed in state conservative circles for successfully leading the defeat of the 2014 gas hike ballot proposal, insists Lively support “has very little to do with gay rights. This is the anti-Baker Trump vote, if it was Scott Lively or Joe the Plumber.”

None of this is to argue that Charlie Baker needs to worry about Scott Lively on Election Day. But Trump fever clearly still thrives here in blue Massachusetts. And if it thrives here, Democrats may yet face a long, tough slog across America this fall.

SOURCE

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Face it: Trump has been right about Iran and North Korea

By Niall Ferguson

THE GREATEST GUNFIGHT in the history of cowboy films is in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” It’s a three-cornered shoot-out between Clint Eastwood (Blondie), Tuco (Eli Wallach), and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef). The crucial point is that before the shooting starts, Blondie has emptied Tuco’s revolver of bullets.

To members of Washington’s foreign policy establishment, regardless of party affiliation, President Trump’s decision to exit one nuclear deal (with Iran) only to enter another nuclear deal (with North Korea) is beyond baffling. They clearly never saw “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Like Eastwood’s Blondie, Trump understands that only one of his antagonists has a loaded gun.

I wish I had a fistful of dollars for every article I have read in the past year about the foolishness or recklessness of Trump’s foreign policy. The funny thing is how few of the people writing such pieces ever pointed out the much greater foolishness and recklessness of his predecessor’s foreign policy.

The goal of Barack Obama’s Iran deal was not just to postpone the Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons by 10 years. For it to be more than a mere deferral, it also had to improve the relative strategic position of the United States and its allies so that by 2025 they would be in a stronger position to stop Iran entering the club of nuclear-armed powers.

As Obama himself put it then, his hope was that by “building on this deal, we can continue to have conversations with Iran that incentivize them to behave differently in the region, to be less aggressive, less hostile, more cooperative. . . . [We will] seek to gain more cooperation from them in resolving issues like Syria or what’s happening in Iraq, to stop encouraging Houthis in Yemen.”

In return for merely slowing down its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, Iran was handed $150 billion in previously frozen assets, as well as a trade bonanza as sanctions were lifted. Under the deal, remember, there was no threat to “snap back” sanctions if Tehran opted to use its new resources to increase its military support for Hezbollah and Hamas, Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, and the Shi’ite Houthi rebellion in Yemen. And so it did just that.

What about Obama’s North Korea policy? In essence, his administration applied ineffectual sanctions that did nothing whatsoever to slow down Kim Jong Un’s nuclear arms program. As Obama left the White House, we were assured that North Korea was still roughly five years away from having intercontinental ballistic missiles and a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on them. Not long after Trump’s inauguration, it became clear that North Korea had in fact been just five months away from possessing those assets.

Trump’s approach is almost exactly the opposite of Obama’s. Trump began by explicitly threatening Pyongyang with “fire and fury.” For a time Kim acted defiant, but the fact that both South Korea and China feared Trump was in earnest had its effect. The South Koreans offered olive branches. The Chinese squeezed North Korea’s economic windpipe. Trump then made a key concession: He agreed to a summit meeting with Kim. Next month in Singapore we shall see what comes of it. My guess is that the deal will make Trump’s knee-jerk critics themselves look foolish. He won’t get complete denuclearization, but he will get some. Meanwhile, large-scale South Korean and Chinese investment in North Korea will start the process of prising open the hermit kingdom.

Now for Iran. Trump’s strategy in year one was to reassure his country’s traditional allies in the region — not only the Saudis and Israelis, but also the other Arab states — that he was on their side against Iranian expansionism. In year two he is not only reapplying the US sanctions on Iran — and remember that they affect not only US companies but European ones too — but also applying pressure on the ground in all those different countries where the Iranians have intervened. Step forward the new national security team, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton — names calculated to make the mullahs quake.

“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend,” Blondie tells Tuco after that memorable gunfight. “Those with loaded guns and those who dig.” Thanks to the Obama administration’s ineffectual tactics, the North Koreans got themselves into the former category: it became a nuclear state. But Iran — its Obama-era boom over — now has to dig.

Economically weak enough to suffer a wave of urban riots in December and January, the Iranians will not find it easy to withstand the snap-back of sanctions and the roll-back of its forces abroad. And if you think the Russians will help them, then you must have missed Benjamin Netanyahu shaking Vladimir Putin’s hand in the Kremlin last week.

SOURCE

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US threatens sanctions against European Union after trade body rules Boeing harmed by Airbus aid

The US has threatened to impose billions of dollars worth of retaliatory sanctions against the European Union, after the World Trade Organisation ruled the trading bloc had been providing illegal aid to Airbus.

The WTO dismissed an appeal by the European Union over an earlier ruling, saying it had failed to remove unfair funding for two of Airbus's models.

Boeing had been arguing that European plane maker Airbus received $22bn (£16.2bn) in market distorting preferential government loans to help launch the A380 superjumbo and A350 jet.

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said: “Today’s final ruling sends a clear message: disregard for the rules and illegal subsidies are not tolerated.

"The commercial success of products and services should be driven by their merits and not by market-distorting actions."

The ruling marks a significant victory for Washington, bringing to a close a case dating back to 2004, and is the first of two key decisions to be made by the WTO regarding the ongoing dispute between Airbus and Boeing.

The second ruling, expected later this year, relates to a separate case, in which the EU is challenging US aid to Boeing. This could lead to the EU later imposing its own punitive tariffs against the US.

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said the report was "really only half the story… The other half coming out later this year will rule strongly on Boeing’s subsidies and we’ll see then where the balance lies.”

The WTO's findings mark a stepping up of trade tensions between the US and European Union, which are already wrangling over whether US tariffs on aluminium and steel will apply to European products.

Speaking after the ruling, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said: "It is long past time for the EU to end these subsidies.

"Unless the EU finally takes action to stop breaking the rules and harming US interests, the United States will have to move forward with countermeasures on EU products."

The EU's trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the WTO had agreed that the EU had "largely complied" with its original findings, but that the EU would also "now take swift action to ensure it is fully in line with the WTO's final decision in this case".

SOURCE

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Kanye and Democrats

By Walter E. Williams

In the aftermath of the Kanye West dust-up, my heart goes out to the white people who control the Democratic Party. My pity stems from the hip-hop megastar's November announcement to his packed concert audience that he did not vote in the presidential election but if he had, he would have voted for Donald Trump. Then, on April 21, West took to his Twitter account, which has 28 million followers, to announce, "I love the way Candace Owens thinks." Owens is Turning Point USA's director of urban engagement and has said that former President Barack Obama caused "damage" to race relations in the United States during his two terms in office.

West's support for Trump, along with his criticism of the "plantation" mentality of the Democratic Party, has been met with vicious backlash from the left. In one song, West raps, "See, that's the problem with this damn nation. All blacks gotta be Democrats. Man, we ain't made it off the plantation." Rep. Maxine Waters said West "talks out of turn" and advised, "He should think twice about politics — and maybe not have so much to say." The bottom-line sin that West has committed is questioning the hegemony of the Democratic Party among black Americans. The backlash has been so bad that West had to hire personal security to protect him against threats made against his life. Fortunately, the police are investigating those threats.

Kanye West is not saying anything different from what Dr. Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Jason Riley, I and other black libertarians/conservatives have been saying for decades. In fact, West has tweeted quotations from Sowell, such as "Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it" and "The most basic question is not what is best but who shall decide what is best." Tweeting those Sowell quotations represents the highest order of blasphemy in the eyes of leftists.

The big difference between black libertarians/conservatives and West is that he has 28 million Twitter followers and a huge audience of listeners whereas few blacks have even heard of libertarian/conservative blacks outside of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. (I might add in passing that Dr. Thomas Sowell is one of the nation's most distinguished and accomplished scholars alive today.)

The Kanye problem for the Democratic Party is that if the party doesn't keep blacks in line and it loses even 20 to 25 percent of the black vote, it can kiss any hope of winning any presidential and many congressional elections goodbye. Democrats may have already seen that threat. That's why they support illegal immigration and voting rights for noncitizens. Immigrants from south of the border who are here illegally may be seen as either a replacement for or a guarantee against the disaster of losing the black vote.

Keeping blacks blind to the folly of unquestioned support for the Democratic Party by keeping blacks fearful, angry and resentful and painting the Republican Party as racist is vital. Democrats never want blacks to seriously ask questions about what the party has done for them. Here are some facts. The nation's most troublesome and dangerous cities — Indianapolis, Stockton, Oakland, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Kansas City, Baltimore, Memphis, St. Louis and Detroit — have been run by Democrats, often black Democrats, for nearly a half-century. These and other Democratic-run cities are where blacks suffer the highest murder rates and their youngsters attend the poorest-performing and most unsafe schools.

Democrats could never afford for a large number of black people to observe, "We've been putting you in charge of our cities for decades. We even put a black Democrat in the White House. And what has it meant for us? Plus, the president you told us to hate has our unemployment rate near a record low." It turns out that it's black votes that count more to black and white politicians than black well-being, black academic excellence and black lives. As for black politicians and civil rights leaders, if they're going to sell their people down the river to keep Democrats in power, they ought to demand a higher price.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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